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Pilot still missing after Vietnam's Russian-made fighter jet loses contact

Wednesday, June 15, 2016, 10:52 GMT+7

One pilot has been brought to safety while another remains missing after a Russian-made fighter jet of the Vietnam People’s Air Force went off radar during a training session on Tuesday morning.

Nguyen Huu Cuong, 39, who was one of the two pilots operating the aircraft Su-30MK2, has been rescued by a local fishing boat, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Cong Luc, deputy chief of the Nghe An Border Guard, confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Wednesday morning.

Cuong was found at a location 28 nautical miles northeast of where the Russian-made warplane first disappeared, according to Luc.

The pilot was discovered in a stable health condition and will be transferred to a rescue craft to be brought ashore.

Search and rescue teams are now exerting all efforts to look for Cuong’s co-pilot, 43-year-old Tran Quang Khai.

Tuoi Tre has made contact with the fishing ship of Phan Van Le, who saved Cuong, and had a brief talk with the pilot.

He said that he and his partner both managed to eject before the plane went down.


The fighter jet Su-30MK2’s flight path is marked yellow on the map. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Khai and Major Cuong were steering the Su-30MK2 during an exercise above the sea area off the north-central province of Nghe An when they lost contact with their operators at around 7:30 am.

The fighter jet departed the Sao Vang airfield in nearby Thanh Hoa Province at around 6:30 am the same day.

Le Van Cuong, a fisherman from Thanh Hoa, reported that he saw a plane crashing at a location about four to six nautical miles northeast of Mat Islet off Nghe An while he was operating in the area.

Following the incident, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a document ordering the Ministry of National Defense and authorities in Nghe An and Thanh Hoa to carry out an emergency search mission.

The Vietnam People’s Air Force dispatched four rescue aircraft and dozens of vessels to potential areas to search for the two pilots.

The Nghe An Border Guard, upon being informed of the situation, sent three ships carrying 35 officers to look for the victims, urging local authorities as well as fishing boats operating near the maritime area where the jet lost contact to assist the search and rescue efforts.


A vessel carries supplies for the search and rescue teams. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Ministry of National Defense, in coordination with the provincial People’s Committee, established a command center on Mat Islet to supervise the mission.

The 1st Regional Command of the Vietnam People’s Navy also sent a vessel to transport food and water to the rescue teams, along with five experts and a black-box detector.

According to Nguyen Sy Hung, deputy chief of the Nghe An search and rescue committee, a total of 15 ships of officers and local fishermen were searching the seaway where an oil slick was spotted.

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